Teen sells beloved Apple collection to keep museum dream alive

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Vintage tech collectors Lonnie Mimms, left, and Alex Jason pose with an Apple e-Mate prototype, part of a collection Alex sold to Mimms.
Vintage tech collectors Lonnie Mimms, left, and Alex Jason pose with an Apple e-Mate prototype, part of a collection Alex sold to Mimms.
Photo courtesy of Bill Jason

Alex Jason, the Maine teenager who used lawn-mowing money to build one of the most impressive collections of rare and historical Apple devices, recently packed it all in a 26-foot truck and made a heartbreaking trip to deliver it to a new owner.

The dream of creating a museum with the collection had hit a snag. Alex had the building and even an impressive board of directors that included Mac designer Jerry Manock. But raising capital to renovate the site proved near impossible in sparsely populated Maine.

Vintage Mac Museum steers clear of Macs that sucked

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How do you like them Apples? Adam Rosen's home is the Vintage Mac Museum.
How do you like them Apples? Adam Rosen's home is the Vintage Mac Museum.
Photo: Adam Rosen

Cult of Mac 2.0 bug Adam Rosen’s collection of vintage Macs doesn’t make him a hoarder, but he acknowledges it doesn’t make him an obvious choice for a husband, either.

In several rooms of Rosen’s Boston home you’ll find a love story nonetheless. The rooms are shrines to a high school sweetheart that matured and grew more sophisticated with time, a friendly face still aglow with “hello.”

Old iMacs don’t die. They become lamps and fish tanks in Nebraska.

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cult 2.0
Jake Harms in his Nebraska workshop, where he turns old iMacs into home furnishings.
Photo: Steph Harms

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugJake Harms was on his way to the warehouse when a supervisor asked him to take a cart full of garbage to the dumpster. On top of the cart was an old indigo blue iMac G3.

Crossing the warehouse floor, Harms needed to turn left toward the dumpster. Instead, he steered the cart right toward the parking lot so that he could offload the broken iMac into his car.

That rescued iMac would become the first of more than 700 to get a second life as an aquarium.

Here’s Mac OS 7.5.5 running on an iPad Air 2

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An iPad Air 2, running Mac OS 7.5.5
An iPad Air 2, running Mac OS 7.5.5
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

Since it was first released, people keep asking when the iPad will be able to run OS X, and while iOS keeps on becoming more like OS X with every passing version, you still can’t run Mac apps on your iPad… right?

Not quite. Technically, it’s possible to run Mac apps on your iPad Air 2. But prepare for it to be sloooooooow, and don’t expect El Capitan, Yosemite, or even Snow Leopard compatibility. This technique tops out with Mac OS 7.5.5, which was first released 19 years ago.

Rare Apple III Plus still works (thanks to good karma)

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This Apple III Plus still works after spending the 1980s scheduling yoga classes at a spiritual retreat center.
This Apple III Plus still works after spending the 1980s scheduling yoga classes at a spiritual retreat center.
Photo: Yogaville/eBay

As far as computers go, the Apple III was a rather rotten Apple. The first 14,000 were recalled with hardware problems galore and even with bugs eventually worked out, Apple never could erase the computer’s “lemon” label.

But if you’re willing to give the Apple III a second chance, there is a working one for sale, complete with manuals, startup disks and, quite possibly, the good karma of a famous swami.

You could own 4,096 bits of space history when computer chip goes up for auction

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This computer chip is from the first computer ever used in a spacecraft.
This computer chip is from the first computer ever used in a spacecraft.
Photo: Heritage Auctions

A memory chip that originated from the first digital computer on a manned space flight will be up for auction next month in Dallas. For those calling in a bid, the smartphone in their hand has more than 250 million times the capacity of this chip.

The onboard computer for Gemini 3 aided astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young with several phases of their March 1965 mission, including prelaunch and re-entry. The 4.25-inch chip, a Random Access Non-Destruction Readout Memory Plane contains 4,096 bits of information, equal to about half of a K.

QuickTake was Apple’s first doomed foray into digital photography

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The Apple QuickTake 100 was awful lot of camera to produce awful images. But one of the first consumer digital cameras had to start somewhere.
The Apple QuickTake 100 was awful lot of camera to produce awful images. But one of the first consumer digital cameras had to start somewhere.
Photo: kezboy/eBay

Sometimes the future is a fuzzy picture. This was literally true when looking at a 0.3-megapixel image produced by one of the first consumer digital cameras, Apple’s doomed QuickTake.

 Launched in 1994, the QuickTake didn’t exactly take off. The bulky behemoth looked like a pair of binoculars. There was no preview screen, so when your camera was full — after just eight pictures at the highest resolution — you had to plug the gadget into your Mac to look at your photos.

Enlarged beyond the size of a postage stamp, the pictures weren’t very sharp. Photographers scoffed that digital files would never record the detail of film.

After three models and three years of modest sales, the QuickTake was scrapped in 1997 along with other non-computer products when Steve Jobs returned to the company.

Can’t wait? eBay’s got your Apple ‘health kit’ now

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FULLSCREEN

An apple a day

We’ve got high hopes for Apple’s healthkit and integration with the long-awaited iWatch. But why wait to slough off the computer tan and desk serf paunch? Here are some fantastic Apple products -- some originals from Cupertino and fanciful knockoffs -- that you can buy right now on eBay to help you get in shape. Once you're there, you can show off your trim physique with this latex shirt with Apple logo, $64.

Stopwatch

It came from the 90s: this sporty stopwatch with logo lanyard is sure to make you stand out on the track and field and is quite a steal at $89.99.

Sweatband

Any huffing and puffing you do will be drowned out by the "oohs" and "ahs" as the exertions from your glistening brow are mopped up with this "Magic of Apple" terrycloth headband with velcro closure. $9.99.

Sweets

Because on your new calorie-restricted Paleo diet, the only sweet things you're going to be laying eyes on are these delicious old Macs. $79.90.

Bento Box

While we're pretty sure this didn't come straight outta Cupertino, you've got to love the idea of carrying your own sleek utensils in an Apple-logo container. If you've always got it with you, there's no excuse for shoving every repast into your gaping maw. Slow down, use a fork and knife and savor every bite with Zen-like grace. $59.99

Beach towel

This beauty could double as a yoga mat or landing pad for the burpees you intend to bust out. This rare item is listed for $240.

Motivational pin

Another fabbo Apple artifact from the 90s, this pin has a message we can all get behind while we get healthy. $10.99

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Ashtray

This is another example of just how much people the world over love Apple - they'll put the beloved logo on just about anything. Every time you want to light up the idea of sullying the symbol of your favorite company will give you pause and possibly the strength to kick the habit. Or use a vape instead. $19.99

See super-rare prototypes of iconic Macs and other Apple marvels

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From Henry Plain’s collection, this clear-sided Macintosh SE was used for engineering tests to check airflow and heat dissipation. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
This clear-sided Macintosh SE from Henry Plain's collection was used for engineering tests to check airflow and heat dissipation. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Some Apple collectors gather one of every Mac, iPod or iPhone, while others specialize in portables or all-in-ones. Then there are the outliers, the super-collectors who search out the incredibly rare items most people never get a chance to see.

“I’m always on the hunt,” says Henry Plain, a California man who specializes in tracking down impossible-to-find Mac prototypes.

Plain owns some of the rarest, most unusual Apple machines ever produced. These are the speed bumps, works in progress or developer’s editions that the secretive Cupertino company never intended for outside eyes. His vast knowledge of Apple’s production gave him a role in facilitating the sale of the Storage Wars-esque Macintosh collection of Marion Stokes that came to light last month. I like to think of him as Prototype Man.

What’s in Plain’s amazing Apple menagerie? Transparent versions of the Macintosh SE and PowerBook 140. A Mac mini with a built-in iPod dock. Prototypes of the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (TAM), the Power Mac G4 Cube and iDevices too numerous to mention. Even to other collectors — and I have a Mac Museum in my house — his inventory is crazy-impressive.

Vintage Computer Festivals Rock On, VCF East 2014 Larger Than Ever

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Vintage Computers at VCF
A Univac mainframe, early hard disk drives, Zork, and an Altair 8800 at VCF East 2014.

What do you get when you combine several hundred serious geeks, two large rooms, five decades’ worth of vintage computers, and a weekend in New Jersey? The Vintage Computer Festival East, of course!

The ninth running of the VCF East was held April 4-7 at the InfoAge Science Center in Wall Township, New Jersey. Hosted by MARCH, the MidAtlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists group, the 2014 show saw the largest number of exhibitors and attendees for a VCF East yet, with exhibit halls expanded from one to two rooms and three days of lectures and seminars available for attendees. The show featured a wide range of computing history, from a seminal, room-size UNIVAC computer, through the DEC, Prime and HP minicomputer era, to the workstations and home computers of the 1970s and ’80s.